2020 NCAA DI Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll – Week 4
NEW ORLEANS – The first big weekend of the spring cross country season shook up the most recent NCAA Division I Men’s Cross Country National Coaches’ Poll that was released on Wednesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).
We’re not going to bury the lede any further: BYU took over the top spot for the biggest change. That means there is a new No. 1 program for the first time since Week 2 of the 2016 season, which ends a 32-week run at the top by Northern Arizona.
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It was just a few days ago at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge where the Cougars beat the Lumberjacks in a head-to-head matchup that featured not just the top-2 programs from the final National Coaches’ Poll of the 2020 fall segment, but four others as well (No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 18 Washington, No. 24 Weber State and No. 27 Air Force were also in the field). BYU edged NAU by five points as it put four runners in the top-10, led by Conner Mantz’s individual title.
This was the second time the Cougars and the Lumberjacks squared off this season. Back in October, NAU won the team title at the OSU Invitational over runner-up Oklahoma State and shorthanded, third-place BYU (It should be mentioned that the Lumberjacks held out a few of their top runners this past weekend, so neither program has seen each other’s full hand yet).
Arkansas held steady at No. 3 for yet another week. The new-look Razorbacks are still riding high off their dominant fall that saw them improve each outing. Arkansas went undefeated in three meets, taking home titles at the SEC Preview Meet (eight points over Ole Miss), Blazer Classic (21 points over Ole Miss) and the SEC Championships (24 points over Ole Miss).
Tulsa moved up one spot from No. 5 to No. 4. The Golden Hurricane opens the spring segment this weekend at the American Athletic Conference Championships. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better returning duo from the previous season headlining a lineup than Patrick Dever (11th at NCAAs in 2019) and Peter Lynch (13th at NCAAs in 2019).
Oklahoma State crept into the top-5 for just the second time in the past five years. The new-look Cowboys ran strong throughout the fall segment: OSU won the Cowboy Jamboree over Iowa State, finished a close runner-up at the OSU Invitational and won the Big 12 title in a tie-breaker over the aforementioned Cyclones.
Iowa State and Portland both jumped two spots to No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. While the Cyclones competed in the fall, the Pilots had to wait until the turn of the New Year and impressed in their first meet. Portland swept a dual against Seattle University and put eight runners in front of the Redhawks’ No. 1, even without more than 10 of their top athletes.
Washington soared into the top-10 for the first time this season after a strong showing at the Silver State Collegiate Challenge in Las Vegas. The Huskies, who mushed nine spots from No. 18 in Week 3 to No. 9 in Week 4, took third place as a team behind BYU and NAU. Washington got a third-place individual effort from Talon Hull and put two other runners in the top-15.
Oregon is welcomed back into the top-10 for the 16th consecutive year. The now 10th-ranked Ducks open the spring segment this weekend at a home invitational. Oregon returns six of its top-7 runners from the NCAA Championships in 2019 and several of those athletes starred on the track at the Razorback Invitational this past weekend.
There are three new additions to the National Coaches’ Poll in Week 4: No. 26 Michigan State, No. 27 Utah State and No. 28 Villanova.
Remember: The rescheduled 2020 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships will be held on Monday, March 15 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.